Lavina Anderson came by to tell me that [managing editor] Jay [Todd] had received a note from Elder [M. Russell] Ballard, [new] editor of the Ensign, asking him to respond to two matters. He said that this had been conveyed to him by Elder [Boyd K.] Packer. Lavina assumes that this means it came from someone higher than Elder Packer, such as, for example, from Elder [Ezra Taft] Benson or Elder [Mark E.] Petersen, but Elder Ballard did not reveal who had asked Elder Packer to convey it to him.
Anyway, the two matters were, first, some criticism of the Donna Hill book [a biography of Joseph Smith]; and secondly, a general criticism of my article in the September issue, "Six Lessons in Church History." Dean Jessee is preparing a comment with respect to the statements made about the Donna Hill book. Basically, they are suggesting that the book contains material that is both defamatory and incorrect, about Joseph Smith. After looking over the list of things, it is clear that these were not things that Donna Hill agreed with, but simply charges that she acknowledged were made against the Prophet, and she really provides an answer to them. So that criticism seems to be misplaced.
With respect to my article, there apparently were no specific criticisms but simply demanding a justification as to why the article was published, why I was asked to write it, and so on. So Lavina was trying to get something together to write up for Jay. Certainly I was not asked, in a formal letter, to write the article. It was something which was transmitted by telephone and not in one of our monthly meetings.
Anyway, there is, somewhere in the world, one person who did not like the article, nor did he/she think that I was qualified to write about Church history. Lavina assumes that I should not inform anybody of this, since she was not officially authorized to tell me. But she simply told me as a friend.
[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]